President Trump's decision to abruptly end insurer subsidies for Obamacare comes as the Senate is expected to resume talks next week on a bipartisan deal that makes the payments.
President Trump intends to end subsidies to insurers, according to a statement Thursday. The move, which would likely lead to some insurers charging higher premiums next year, comes as bipartisan talks to fund the payments continue in the Senate.
Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., have been working for weeks on a narrow bipartisan deal that would fund the payments in exchange for greater flexibility for states to waive certain Obamacare regulations.
The Senate is in recess this week and returns on Monday. So far no deal has emerged and Alexander said recently that Democrats aren't giving enough flexibility to states.
Democratic congressional leaders said on late Thursday that Trump's decision means he is walking away from the talks.
"If these reports are true, the President is walking away from the good faith, bipartisan Alexander-Murray negotiations and risking the health care of millions of Americans," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a joint statement.
But it remains unclear whether President Trump or the House is amenable to a bipartisan deal that funds the payments in exchange for flexibility.
Some Republicans have derided the cost-sharing payments as a "bailout" of Obamacare. A bipartisan deal would also come after Congress again failed to repeal the healthcare law at the end of last month.
Insurers are required to lower out-of-pocket costs like copays for low-income Obamacare customers. The government then reimburses them, but the White House now plans to end those payments.
Insurers are still required to lower out-of-pocket costs, and so without the payments that has led some experts to estimate premium hikes for Obamacare customers to make up the costs.
An estimate from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that premiums would go up by 19 percent for average Obamacare plans without the payments.